Why Gmail and Yahoo are blocking my emails

Feb 1
7 min read
Starting February 2024, Gmail and Yahoo have strengthened their policies regarding senders. Requiring that senders who send 5,000 or more messages a day to Gmail or Yahoo: Authenticate outgoing email, avoid sending unwanted or unsolicited email, and make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe.
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Email marketing is a crucial aspect of any digital marketing strategy. However, not all emails make it to the recipient's inbox. If you are experiencing delivery issues with Gmail and Yahoo, you are not alone. It can be frustrating to find out that your emails are being blocked and you might be wondering why. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why Gmail and Yahoo are blocking your emails and what you can do to address the issue.

If your domain is not authenticated, there's a possibility that your emails may not be delivered to gmail.com or yahoo.com addresses on your list, despite subscribers' wishes to receive them!

Authentication Matters

As an email marketer, it’s important to understand the technical complexities behind email authentication to ensure your emails reach your subscribers’ inboxes.

While this authentication is only mandatory for those who send more than 5,000 messages per day, it is strongly recommended that everyone make these changes to get ahead of any more stringent requirements that could come in the future.

What is email authentication?

Email authentication is the process of verifying the legitimacy of an email's source to prevent spam, phishing and fraud. It includes three main protocols: SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. These protocols authenticate the sender’s domain against the email’s IP address, message contents, and policy alignment respectively. To authenticate your email, you need to own a domain and publish these protocols in your DNS records.

Owning a domain is vital for establishing brand credibility, brand recognition and ensuring your deliverability. Please authenticate your emails to avoid ending up in the spam folder or rejected, rather than reaching the  inbox. Additionally, lacking authentication leaves your brand vulnerable to impersonation by spammers, who may then send deceptive emails from your domain.

If you have any questions, we can help

For the rest of this article, we're going to focus on what Google and Yahoo have to say about this process.

According to Google

Starting February 2024, Gmail will require senders who send 5,000 or more messages a day to:

  • Authenticate outgoing email
  • Avoid sending unwanted or unsolicited email
  • Make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe

If you send more than 5,000 messages per day to Gmail accounts

  • Set up SPF and DKIM email authentication for your domain.
  • Ensure that sending domains or IPs have valid forward and reverse DNS records, also referred to as PTR records. Learn more
  • Use a TLS connection for transmitting email. For steps to set up TLS in Google Workspace, visit Require a secure connection for email.
  • Keep spam rates reported in Postmaster Tools below 0.10% and avoid ever reaching a spam rate of 0.30% or higher. Learn more about spam rates.
  • Format messages according to the Internet Message Format standard (RFC 5322).
  • Don’t impersonate Gmail From: headers. Gmail will begin using a DMARC quarantine enforcement policy, and impersonating Gmail From: headers might impact your email delivery.
  • If you regularly forward email, including using mailing lists or inbound gateways, add ARC headers to outgoing email. ARC headers indicate the message was forwarded and identify you as the forwarder. Mailing list senders should also add a List-id: header, which specifies the mailing list, to outgoing messages.
  • Set up DMARC email authentication for your sending domain. Your DMARC enforcement policy can be set to none. Learn more
  • For direct mail, the domain in the sender's From: header must be aligned with either the SPF domain or the DKIM domain. This is required to pass DMARC alignment.
  • Marketing messages and subscribed messages must support one-click unsubscribe, and include a clearly visible unsubscribe link in the message body.

See the entire list of requirements, plus details on how to incorporate them into your email marketing campaigns by visiting Google Support here.

According to Yahoo

From February 2024, Yahoo will enforce new sending standards. To avoid any negative impact on your mail delivery at Yahoo domains, make sure to meet these requirements. They also note that they will gradually implement enforcement while monitoring compliance throughout the first half of the year. Requirements are subject to change.

Among the requirements for bulk senders

Authenticate your mail

  • Implement both SPF & DKIM
  • Publish a valid DMARC policy with at least p=none - DMARC must pass

Support easy unsubscribe

  • Implement a functioning list-unsubscribe header, which supports one-click unsubscribe for marketing and subscribed messages
  • Have a clearly visible unsubscribe link in the email body - this may direct to a preference page
  • Honor unsubscribes within 2 days

Keep spam complaint rates low

  • Keep your spam rate below 0.3%
  • Spam rate is calculated in our system based on mail delivered to the inbox
  • Have a valid forward and reverse DNS record for your sending IPs

Comply with RFCs 5321 and 5322

Refer to Yahoo Best Practices for more details.

Top issues causing your emails to be blocked

There are several issues that can cause your emails to be blocked or filtered. These include:

  • Not having a valid SPF record set up for your domain
  • Not having a DKIM signature on your emails
  • Sending from a blacklisted IP address
  • High spam complaint rates from recipients
  • Poor email authentication practices, such as sending from multiple domains without proper authentication.

It is important to regularly check and monitor these factors to ensure that your emails are delivered successfully and do not end up in the spam or junk folder. You can use tools such as Mail Tester or MX Toolbox to analyze your email deliverability and identify any potential issues.

Additionally, staying up to date with email industry standards and best practices is crucial in maintaining a good sender reputation. Regularly reviewing the CFL data and keeping your spam complaint rates low can also help improve your deliverability.

Besides the technical side, keep these best practices in mind.

Best practices for email marketing

These guidelines used to be optional. Today, they are table stakes. Make sure you and your team are prepared to adhere to these guidelines in 2024.

No spam

Sending unsolicited emails to recipients is the fastest way to get your emails blocked and potentially damage your brand reputation. Make sure all recipients have opted in to receive your emails and always provide an easy way for them to unsubscribe.

One-Click unsubscribe

This is now mandatory under the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR regulations. It should be easy for recipients to unsubscribe from your emails with just one click. Sure that seems like you're making it easy for people to get off you email list. That is exactly what you're doing. If they don't want your email, why waste time sending it to them?

Format your emails properly

Avoid using large images, excessive HTML or CSS, and too many links in your emails. This can trigger spam filters and also make your email look unprofessional. Stick to a clean and simple format with minimal images and only essential links.

Personalization is key

Studies have shown that personalized emails are more likely to be opened and read than generic ones. Use the recipient's name and other relevant information in the subject line and email body to make your message feel more personal.

Keep emails relevant

Don't bombard your subscribers with emails that have no real value or relevance to them. Make sure each email serves a purpose and provides useful information, whether it's promotions, updates, or helpful tips.

Maintain a clean email list

Regularly clean up your email list by removing inactive or bounced email addresses. This not only helps improve your deliverability but also saves you money by not sending emails to addresses that don't exist.

Test before sending

Always send a test email to yourself or a colleague before sending it out to your entire email list. This allows you to check for any formatting issues, broken links, or other errors that may affect the deliverability of your email.

Email marketing is a powerful tool for businesses to reach and engage with their audience. By following these tips, you can ensure that your emails are effective, professional, and well-received by your subscribers. Remember to always put yourself in the recipient's shoes when crafting your emails and provide value in every message you send. With proper email etiquette and strategy, you can build a strong relationship with your subscribers and ultimately drive success for your business.  So, keep these tips in mind and start sending out effective emails to achieve your marketing goals! Keep learning and exploring new techniques to further improve your email marketing game. Best of luck!

Resources: Authenticating my domain with SPF, DKIM and DMARC protocols

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